Author: Andy Bray

Expedition to the End of the World – a review

I’ve been to the cinema again and, like last time, I feel compelled to write about it, encouraging you to see the film I just have. Expedition to the End of the World. Just reading the title evokes the vision of a Phileas Fogg-like adventure, and the film doesn’t disappoint.


Expedition to the End of the World is a sublime docu-film following a group of scientists and artists as they explore the unchartered fjords of NE Greenland on a three-mast schooner. Venturing by land, sea and air, the group experience the wildlife, wilderness and wonder of this area 200 km further north than the northernmost town. With pictures accompanied by a soundtrack of Mozart and Metallica, the eclectic nature of the trip is clear. Needless to say, from an artistic point of view this film presents a beautifully stark landscape, one which I’ve found myself daydreaming about visiting and studying.


The main theme running through the feature is a conversation about life. Finding evidence of past life in the form of fossilised algal mats, the remains of a Stone Age playground and the carcases of deceased Arctic inhabitants, is met with the discovery of a new marine species and the awakening of dormant micro-organisms from the permafrost. These explorations and discoveries are accompanied by philosophical discussions on the origin, significance and meaning of life, topics we often don’t have the mental space to consider.


I’ve often thought that I should aim to be like a great scientist of old, not just a scientist but a philosopher. Maybe I need to hang out with more artists. Maybe I need to go on a boat trip to Greenland…


Anyway, as it seems I have become the resident EAG film critic I should probably give a rating, let’s go for 4.5/5*. I’d recommend this film to everyone as it is a delightful feature on artistic, scientific and personal exploration and it continues the discussion on the parallels between art and science which Betsy wrote about at the end of Goldschmidt 2013. The film is on again in Leeds on Tuesday 12th November but if you can’t make that there are several short episodes which I’ll link to at the bottom of the page.


I’ll leave now with what expedition co-initiator Minik Rosing writes:


“Art and science both express the human need to understand ourselves in our world… A trip with no expectations of synergies and intersections was what we needed and what would produce the most valuable results, if we simply populated the ship with amiable people who were all experts in their field… The Expedition to the End of the World is a snapshot, not a document of the participating artists and scientists or their projects… No obligations or performance contracts, just pure exploration of the worlds of nature, science and art.”


* One can never give full marks!


Andy saw Expedition to the End of the World at the Leeds International Film Festival where it is showing again on Tuesday 12th November 2013 at 16:00.

Episode 1: History of Life Episode 2: Vanished People Episode 3: The permafrost thaws Episode 4: New Species Episode 5: Capturing a mountain